Native Plant Fall Sale!

posted Oct 24, 2017, 7:12 AM by Howard Ecoworks   [ updated Nov 6, 2017, 9:38 AM ]

Howard EcoWorks is selling our excess native plant stock!  Great pricing for bulk purchases!  Help put these native plants into their forever homes in your community!  Community / restoration projects are eligible for a potential discount and delivery - please inquire at  Plants can generally be picked up at our nursery on Tues and Fri mornings between 9:30 and 11:30.

Email plant orders to Irene Sadler: 

Historic Ellicott City Channel Maintenance

posted Oct 13, 2017, 7:14 AM by Howard Ecoworks   [ updated Oct 16, 2017, 5:58 AM ]

Brandt Dirmeyer, Watershed Action Team-member, 6 Oct 2017

From Monday, October 2nd to Thursday, October 5th, the Watershed Action Team, a new program of Howard Ecoworks funded and supported by Howard County Government, worked within the Tiber Hudson subwatershed to remove debris and potential blockage issues from the streams. The WAT team is a collection of five individuals that will spend a 10-month term studying, assessing, conducting community outreach and implementing projects in Tiber Hudson subwatershed of the Patapsco River. The program is similar to Howard County’s Cleanscapes program and is in accordance with the Patapsco Valley Heritage Area (PVHA) Management Plan. Although I had been working within the watershed this past year as a Chesapeake Bay Trust Conservation Corpsmember with Patapsco Heritage Greenway, my WAT colleagues -- with the exception of Maria Clark -- are relatively unfamiliar with the tributaries and branches that course around and through Ellicott City’s historic district. This past week was our immersive lesson on the stormwater and infrastructure issues that this unique watershed faces.

Since its founding, Ellicott City has had to deal with its share of floods. As a mill town built upon four tributaries winding through a valley of shallow bedrock, Ellicott City was designed to economically thrive upon the steady-moving water of the Tiber Hudson subwatershed. Unfortunately for our modern society, the water that helped to develop Ellicott City into a booming granite community is now the town’s most pertinent safety issue. Most all of the town was developed before stormwater standards were mandatory, and many buildings along Main St are sited directly atop stream channels. With an increase in impermeable surfaces upstream and within the floodplain that houses the historic district, stormwater is an issue that needs to be better understood so that the Ellicott City community can be better prepared for any future high-intensity storms.

Stormwater accumulates during rain events due to the prevalence of impermeable surfaces. As the water accumulates on the surface, it follows the path of least resistance. Generally, this means that the water runs into nearby streams, carrying with it whatever debris it can, including trash, metal objects, fallen tree limbs, plastic outdoor furniture, and other items easily swept away. As humans have developed upon forested land, clearing trees for roofed buildings, asphalt roads, and concrete sidewalks, we’ve reduced the capacity for the land to absorb and percolate rain through the soil and rock into the water table. The roots of trees and plants also absorb water for their own use. As we have reduced the capacity for nature’s infrastructure to assist with the dissipation of rainwater, we must develop our infrastructure to accommodate for the increased severity of flooding.

Although there are projects currently in the design and development phases to reduce the impact of stormwater within the watershed, if another severe storm were to hit tomorrow, the town would still be ill-equipped to deal with the excess surface water. In order to mitigate as much near-future damage as possible, the WAT team spent four days surveying the Tiber Hudson stream channels under the leadership of Lori Lilly, the Executive Director of Howard EcoWorks, to assess and reduce potential hazards that could cause blockages. From sawing and axing fallen trees to removing rusted metal pipes long-since functional, the team worked tirelessly within the tributaries.

As time progressed, I became suspicious that Lori wanted us to do this work not only because it needed to be done to reduce damage risk to the town, but also to give us an immersive, multifaceted lesson on hydrology & sustainable infrastructure. As we passed underneath recently-flooded buildings and around channel walls built at right angles, all along the way spending so much energy to remove hazardous debris (~2.5 tons of wood waste, plastics, and scrap metal), I can safely say for the entire WAT team that we now know the benefits of proper infrastructure development, as well as the intense power of water. As the WAT team spends this upcoming year canvassing the watershed and working with homeowners in Ellicott City to develop, design, and install best management practices (BMPs) such as stormwater gardens, conservation landscapes, tree plantings, and stream buffers, we will have the experience of this past week in the back of our minds, inspiring us to do our best work in implementing BMPs to reduce flood risks within the Tiber Hudson subwatershed.

For further reading about our channel maintenance of Ellicott City, see the report pdf below. (Note: there are pictures in the pdf!)

Greenleaf Bioretention

posted Jun 20, 2017, 10:12 AM by Howard Ecoworks

Howard EcoWorks constructed our first bioretention facility in the Greenleaf neighborhood in Columbia. The facility was designed by Howard Soil Conservation District in 2015. Funding was obtained from the Chesapeake Bay Trust and Howard County in 2017 to construct the project. Construction began on 4/6/2017 and ended on 5/19/2017. During Howard County Public School System’s Spring Break, the week of 4/10, nine high school students spent the week with the current READY crew to undertake the majority of the excavation. Approximately 80 cubic yards of soil was excavated BY HAND from two 800 sf cells. Rick Cascioli of Clarkesville did assist with some of the grading with a track loader and track backhoe. On 5/15, approximately 15 Columbia Association volunteers also assisted by adding biosoil to the cells! The facility treats a 1.17 acre drainage area that is 30% impervious. It will remove 9.1 lb/yr of nitrogen, 0.6 lb/yr of phosphorus and 659 lb/yr of sediment reduction. The project cost approximately ~$16,000 with a contribution of ~1,000 labor hours! The neighbors are very excited to be doing their part to protect the adjacent local stream and Green Infrastructure Network!

For more information, check out THIS FACT SHEET.

First Landscapes For Life Class Graduated at Howard County Dept of Corrections

posted Apr 7, 2017, 2:25 PM by Howard Ecoworks   [ updated Apr 14, 2017, 11:50 AM ]

We were really excited to graduate our first Landscape for Life class at the Howard County Department of Corrections.  The group learned sustainable gardening practices over a course of (5) 2-hour lessons.   Four minimum security in-mates will proceed to constructing their own on-site sustainable garden with native plants in the coming week.   They received certificates at the end of the program that may help them secure landscaping jobs upon release.  Several were excited about the lessons that they can use in their own lives, "Once you get a sustainable garden going, it will require less maintenance (work) for you," reported one participant.  Good job Howard EcoWorks team for providing these valuable lessons and thank you Howard County Department of Corrections, Howard County Office of Sustainability and the MD Department of Natural Resources for support.  UPDATE: Please check out this video produced by Howard County's Public Information Office:

READY is hiring!

posted Mar 15, 2017, 1:48 PM by Howard Ecoworks   [ updated Mar 15, 2017, 1:49 PM ]

Applications for the summer READY program are open!  We're looking for young people 16-26 years old who wish to make a difference in the Howard County community, work hard and build lasting friendships.  Visit our website to apply for a Crew Member, Assistant Crew Leader or Crew Leader position.

In addition, we are looking for extra help during Spring Break - the week of 4/10.  If you are interested in an Alternative Spring Break to make some extra money AND make a difference in the community at the same time, please contact the RAEDY Program Manager, Nicole McDaniels:

New projects underway in 2017!!

posted Feb 25, 2017, 12:32 PM by Howard Ecoworks   [ updated Mar 15, 2017, 1:38 PM ]

We are very excited to kick off two new projects in 2017, both focused on community engagement and both generously funded by the Chesapeake Bay Trust

The first project, Howard County Neighborhood Greenways, is being completed in partnership with the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay and will focus on outreach, education and restoration activities in Columbia and the surrounding community in support of Howard County's Green Infrastructure Network, our most valuable ecological resources in the County.  We will conduct three community workshops in 2017 and  construct two bioretention facilities to treat more than 0.5 acres of impervious surfaces.  These bioretentions will be the READY program's first construction of engineered stormwater management practices! 

The second project, Ellicott City - Soak It Up,  to be completed in partnership with the Ellicott City Partnership, is a grassroots watershed engagement project that aims, in the long-term, to convert more than 700 acres of turf grass in the Tiber Hudson watershed to permeable and native landscapes.  We have received a small grant to develop branding and marketing materials as well as construct a 150 sq ft rain garden and 4500 sq ft conservation landscape at St. Peter's church!

READY Receives Melanie Teems Award from Chesapeake Bay Trust

posted Jan 19, 2017, 7:43 AM by Howard Ecoworks   [ updated Feb 6, 2017, 5:20 PM ]

READY received the Melanie Teems award from the Chesapeake Bay Trust. This award recognizes a program that engages residents in efforts to improve the Chesapeake region’s natural resources through demonstration-based projects or programs, serves as a model for other organizations, and motivates and inspires other organizations and/or individuals by promoting environmental engagement throughout the community. We are very thankful to the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay and Howard County Government for their strong support over the past 5 years!

The Ellicott City Watershed

posted Dec 28, 2016, 5:11 PM by Howard Ecoworks   [ updated Dec 28, 2016, 5:27 PM ]

If you live or work in the Ellicott City watershed, the Tiber Hudson watershed, you can commit to helping your downstream neighbors in a number of ways!  Stay tuned for more details as we unveil a new program effort Ellicott City - Soak It Up that aims to engage those that live and work in Ellicott City’s watershed in small best management practices and non-structural actions that will improve conditions for their downstream neighbors.  

With increasing intensity and frequency of storms associated with climate change and subsequently more “top down” flooding, the need for upstream stormwater controls has become readily apparent from the 2011 and 2016 flood events. Watershed engagement and identifying individuals and associations that support behavior change and project implementation is essential to achieving a critical mass of support for long-term solutions.   And, with approximately 20-30% of the Tiber Hudson watershed covered in turf grass, we have more runoff than we would have with native vegetation such as meadow grasses, native perennials and native trees and shrubs.  These vegetation types help to increase permeability and overall infiltration capacity of the landcsape.

We are currently seeking grant funds for this effort and aim to kick off our campaign in spring, 2017 with a demonstration project at St. Peter’s Episcopal church.  Our project at St.  Peter's will convert 4500 square feet of turf grass to native vegetation and a rain garden.    On May 6, we will celebrate our garden and St. Peter's contributions to watershed efforts at their 175th Anniversary event!

Do you live in the Eliicott City watershed?  Check the map and type your address in the search bar to find out!

Howard EcoWorks

More than 300 trees planted this week!

posted Nov 9, 2016, 11:44 AM by Howard Ecoworks

The crew has been busy planting this week.  Monday and Tuesday were spent in Edgewater, MD where they planted around 275 trees with the South River Federation and MD Conservation Corps.  On Wed, they quickly planted 60 more trees in Columbia, MD with the Columbia Association.  It's been a great week so far!

Planet Protection Program

posted Oct 14, 2016, 3:26 AM by Howard Ecoworks

The Planet Protection Program is a student organization consisting of high school students around the county that works to eliminate environmental apathy, provide environmental community service opportunities, and educate local community and peer members.

Our organization will be hosting an open meeting to promote membership on Saturday, October 22 from 10am-11:30pm at the Ellicott Room in Miller Library for all 8th-12th grade students.  Our organization invite any interested 8th - 12th graders to attend our open meeting to meet our committee chairs, members from other schools, and engage first-hand in the experience of the Planet Protection Program.

If you are interested or know someone whos is interested, please sign up for our open meeting at:

We hope that participation by a greater variety of schools will allow school environmental clubs to exchange more information for the opportunity to create a more environmentally-conscious community.  Hope to see you then!

1-10 of 13